Monday, June 20, 2011

Soccer? I Barely Knew Her

Those that know me will probably find it completely out of character that I've not only attended two professional soccer games in the past couple of months, but also enjoyed myself. Y'see, I'm not a sports enthusiast in any way, shape or form. While I enjoyed baseball as a kid-and sometimes take a cursory glance at half an inning of a World Series game, I loathe football and its milieu. I guess that makes me Un-American. Yawn... I don't mind the fringe sports, especially the recent resurgence of roller derby (particularly my hometeam, The Rose City Rollers), but hey, there are other reasons for my interest in that spectator sport and it doesn't involve skating. And one of these fine days I'll even come to terms for my life-long love of professional wrestling.

This soccer thing has caught me completely off-guard.

First and foremost, my main purpose for attending both Portland Timbers home games was that my grandson, The Great Sebastian, was a ball-boy, as were several other members of his team. Sebastian, you see, lives and breathes soccer. I believe his passion for this game has even exuded my love for movies at his age.

Second, my wife and I were treated to these events thanks to a generous grant from Sebastian's parent company, namely, his mom and dad, the latter generously involving the four of us on this Father's Day outing.

Third, not knowing rule one about soccer, I actually enjoyed the games, particularly this last one against the New York Red Bulls. I found myself cheering more than once...spontaneously. Of course, it helped that we sat on the other end of the stadium AWAY from the Timbers Army, the superfans who incessantly chant all to their beat of their very own drummer. From a distance, not so bad. Up close and personal, I take out a machete.

Fourth but not least, the Timbers games are held in downtown Portland at Jeld-Wen Stadium, an open air venue that used to be known as PGE Park, a strangely isolated spot to contain thousands of soccer fans without disrupting the rest of the city...much. It really tickled my funnybone to realize that the same weekend, downtown Portland hosted not just the Timbers game, but the Gay Pride Parade AND the annual Naked Bike Ride. This weekend, a 40th anniversary singalong of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at the Crystal Ballroom with a family matinee and an adult evening performance complete with candy cocktails. The week after that? The Portland Blues Festival. Portland is just so darn festive.

Maybe other than supporting Sebastian, which I will do until my dying breath, I think the key to all this hoopla is that, when it comes right down to it, I actually have some genuine pride in this town known as Portland, Oregon. I enjoy rooting for it. It is, after all, home.

I say that now. Let's see if I change my tune if I actually have to pay to go to another Timbers game.

In the meantime:

Go, Rose City!

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